Virtual Concert with Japanese Music

music mondays Playlist:

Cheer up with "Virtual" Concert
Weekly Program in April 2020 –  May 2021

Thank you to all of the amazing artists who made Music Mondays possible!  We offered this virtual live concert series during lunch time every Monday from April 2020 to May 2021 via JFLA Facebook LIVE.  From traditional Japanese music to contemporary Jazz to J-Pop, over 80 talented performers from the U.S. and Japan contributed this program by playing their repertoire dedicated specially to you. 
And thank you to all of you who viewed Music Mondays.  We hope we were able to cheer you up over the past year. You can still view the performances anytime with the playlist.  Please enjoy!

You can view the videos from the JFLA’s Facebook Playlist, YouTube channel, or the following list (click the link at the end of each performers’ profile).


april 20, 2020: mike penny

: Mike Penny has received numerous awards for his innovative compositions and performances using the Tsugaru Shamisen. In 2007, he received the Japan Foundation’s Uchida Fellowship, which allowed him to study the instrument in Japan with Tokyo’s highly respected Tsugaru shamisen sensei Fukushi Toyoaki. Mike has given hundreds of public performances and continues to perform regularly as a solo artist and in various groups. He has become known through his many viral video performances on YouTube, and has gained a following for his unprecedented style of shamisen playing which combines traditional and extended techniques in a variety of musical contexts including jazz, Balkan folk, Western classical, and popular music in a fusion of both east and west, past and future.
You can watch his performance for Music Monday (April 20) on YouTube (Click here). 

April 27, 2020: Eien Hunter-Ishikawa

Eien Hunter-Ishikawa is a musician, educator, and composer specializing in taiko, shinobue, and percussion. Recognized for his musicianship and versatility, he integrates his background of jazz, Western percussion, and traditional Japanese music to create an original and inventive approach to his teaching and performance. Eien has collaborated with many pioneers of innovative music including the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble, Kenny Endo, On Ensemble, John Kaizan Neptune, Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos, Colleen Lanki, TaikoArts Midwest, Naomi Sato, Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, Zenshin Daiko, Ho Etsu Taiko, Makoto Taiko, and Enso Daiko. After receiving early training from Saburo Mochizuki of the renowned Tokyo ensemble Sukeroku Daiko, Eien earned his Bachelor of Music Education at Central Michigan University and his Master of Music Performance at University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is a passionate advocate of Edo Bayashi and Kotobuki Jishi (the traditional festival music and lion dance of Tokyo) and continues his in-depth study under Wakayama Shachu’s Kyosuke Suzuki, with kind support from Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten. Eien is an in-demand instructor and frequently presents workshops and lessons to various groups around the country. His website’s many articles, instructional videos, and online lessons are utilized by students worldwide. When not on the road, Eien makes beer, bread, natto, kimchi, miso, hot sauce, and other culinary pursuits at his home in Portland, Oregon. Recipes are featured on his blog, along with musician interviews and other eccentricities.
You can watch his performance for Music Monday (April 27) on YouTube (Click here). 

May 4, 2020: Saeko Kujiraoka

Saeko Kujiraoka began studying the Ikuta technique of Koto playing in Tokyo, Japan. She received an advanced degree in Koto, Sangen, and classical singing from the Michio Miyagi School of Koto in Japan. She teaches private Koto lessons in the Los Angeles area and performs at the colleges, museums and various receptions. She is proactively involved in various collaborations with harp, orchestra, jazz & Bossa Nova groups, etc. 2019 New Year's Day's Rose Parade in Pasadena CA, Saeko played the Koto on top of the float of a Japanese garden by Sierra Madre Rose Float Association.
You can watch her performance for Music Monday (May 4) on YouTube (Click here). 

May 11, 2020:  Shawnee Schroeder

When Shawn was first introduced to the shakuhachi , when he was a very young teenager from his father that used a wooden shakuhachi for his yoga practice . Shawn became very interested in the instrument and begin to listen to shakuhachi recordings he found in the world music section at the record store . In his early adulthood , Shawn became serious and begin his study around 2004 in Los Angeles. With sensei Kaoru Kakizakai , and for the past 10 years he has been traveling back and forth from the United States to Japan to further his study of traditional honkyoku/sankyoku, and become Shihan, through the School Of Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan (International Study Group) As well he has studied with Tozan teacher Bill Shozan. He also has a passion for making Shakuhachi both jiari and jinashi Shakuhachi , his shakuhachi Making name is ChikuShin , made at his workshop in The mountain valleys of Santa Susana California.
You can watch his performance for Music Monday (May 11) on YouTube (Click here). 

May 18, 2020: Takako uemurA & Hiro Morozumi

Jazz vocalist Takako brings warm, happy and nostalgic sound to you.
She creates jazz standards and old Japanese folk songs to relive and tell a story. Takako was born and raised on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Her singing career started on this island and continued at the Yamaha Music Academy in Sapporo. Later, she discovered the art of jazz transitioning from the world of Japanese pop songs to the universal language of jazz standards.  Since coming to Los Angeles, Takako has performed on a variety of studio recording projects and live performances. She has worked with some of the finest musicians in the world such as Russell Ferrante, Tamir Hendelman, Otamaro Ruis, Tony Dumas, Ralph Penland, Alex Cline and Peter Erskine among others to bring audiences a wonderful and unique sound that evokes a nostalgic blend of exotic worldliness. Takako's debut CD " Common Ground " was released on February 2010 produced by world renowned drummer Peter Erskine.

Having studied under scholarship in the renowned University of North Texas jazz program, Hiro has won many awards including the 3rd place in the Montreux Jazz Festival piano competition, Henry Mancini Institute scholarship, Down Beat magazine Best Extended-Composition award, and Keyboard Magazine "Unsigned Artist of the Month" award. He has worked on stage with artists such as Duke Ellington Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Tommy Campbell, Paul Jackson, Kana Uemura and Maki Oguro. He has released two solo albums and produces background music for the Japanese Seven Eleven chain.

You can watch their performance for Music Monday (May 18) on YouTube (Click here). 






June 1, 2020: David Neptune

David Neptune is a documentary filmmaker and musician living in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Japan, David comes from a background in Japanese music thanks to playing percussion in concerts with his musician father John Kaizan Neptune. He moved to the US in 2000 and later started directing new media videos like What Kind of Asian Are You? with 10 million views on YouTube and But We’re Speaking Japanese with 40 million views on facebook. He transitioned into making documentary films and in 2019 completed his first documentary feature film Words Can’t Go There about his father and his life of music. It premiered at Warsaw International Film Festival and went on to play at Hawaii International Film Festival. While currently story producing an episode of Marvel’s 616 docuseries for Disney, David has been writing songs during these challenging times and hoping to play music for a live audience again soon.
You can watch his performance for Music Monday (June 1) on YouTube (Click here). 

June 8, 2020: Ken Koshio

Ken Koshio was born in Nagoya, Japan. Since 1998, he’s been active as a singer and songwriter in the United States. After being active in Los Angeles for 7 years as a folk rock musician, the experiences of 9-11 made him take his musical journey all across the United States through his Thousand Cranes Tour in 2002, which he brought 10,000 origami cranes that he received while traveling through LA to NY on old route 66.  He moved to Phoenix in 2004, where he experienced his first time beating the taiko drums. Since then, he has been actively involved in Japanese arts and culture and holds classes in his dojo (studio). He spends time going around schools in Arizona to spread his love for Japanese arts and crafts to young students.  Ken continues to challenge musical genres through collaborating with Native American artists and receiving a teaching certification for Hiroshima Jidaiko (Indigenous Taiko drums) from The Hiroshima Preservation Society. He has received training from Mr. Munakata, who is a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing and would like to continue his legacy.


You can watch his performance for Music Monday (June 8) on YouTube (Click here). 

June 15, 2020: Sayaka Alessandroni

Sayaka Alessandroni is a singer-songwriter who is currently a 3rd year student at the Berklee College of Music on a full tuition scholarship as a songwriting major.  She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and she is of Japanese and Italian descent.  Sayaka has always loved music but never studied seriously until 4 years ago when she began taking piano classes and joined the choir at her high school.  Her debut EP was released on all platforms in the summer of 2018, consisting of songs written when she was between the ages of 16-18.  The EP was recorded live in a studio, under the genre of Neo soul/R&B.  Two years ago, she was personally selected by Alicia Keys out of thousands of contestants to be on her team for The Voice on Snapchat, and wound up making it all the way to the final round.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (June 15) on YouTube (Click here). 

June 22, 2020: Makiko Hirata

An international pianist and recording artist, Makiko Hirata is “Dr. Pianist,” on a mission to promote music and musicians as healing agents. In addition to her performances, lectures, media appearances and workshops, she is currently authoring her first book “Why Piano Now?” Based on her own career and practice, her doctoral dissertation, and neuroscience, her book introduces communal experience of music as innately and essentially human. It presents music making as a way to enhance our sense of happiness, well-being and humanity. After spending her childhood in Japan and Hong Kong, Dr. Pianist’s career started while she was still a student at The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division. She has performed in North and South America, her native Japan and Europe, and has released six solo albums and four collaborative albums. She celebrates her twentieth annual recital tour in Japan, this summer. She attained her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rice University in 2017. As a consultant to Houston Methodist Hospital’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, she collaborates with neuroscientists to quantify the benefit of music. She is a US-Japan Leadership Program fellow.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (June 22) on YouTube (Click here). 

June 29, 2020: LAPRETE, formerly known as Aidan James

Aidan James Laprete Powell was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and moved to Los Angeles in 2016. Now rebranded as Laprete, this innovative 18 year old artist brings elements of R&B and ambient music to alt-pop songs but also produces all genres of music. He first achieved fame at the age of 8 through his cover of Train's “Hey Soul Sister” on YouTube, which he successfully blended classic ukulele with pop music. He debuted with “Live Again” at the age of 13 and released his follow up full-length album, “Echoes” a year later. 
Laprete has expanded his career outside of Hawaii through “ABC News”, “HBO”, “Hawaii Five-0”, and “Good Morning America”. These experiences lead him to perform at famous venues such as Whisky A Go Go, House of Blues Voodoo Room, Hotel Cafe, and many more. He has been the opening act for Jack Johnson, Lisa Loeb, Michael Bolton, and Grammy award-winning band, Train.
Laprete will debut his EP from his latest project late summer 2020 and his first single, “Ina” showcases a new direction in his music.  Laprete has been a featured artist at BMI's exclusive artist showcase in Los Angeles and has been kept busy as a much sought after producer for other established artists such as Matisyahu, Chosen Jacobs, and Saving Forever as well as many emerging young artists.  Laprete continues to push his artistry and production to a place well beyond his years.

You can watch his performance for Music Monday (June 29) on YouTube (Click here). 

july 6, 2020: Nori tani and friends

Flute/ saxophone player and producer.  Born in Tokyo, studied classical flute from age 9 and started playing alto sax during high school when he taught himself Jazz. He became a studio and back up musician for many famous singers in Japan during his college years. He came to Los Angeles in 1980 where he studied flute with Janet Ferguson (LA Philharmonic principal), James Newton and Jim Walker. He became friends and played with jazz legends including Ray Brown, Gene Harris, Sam Most, Peter Erskine, Hubert Laws and many other great players. As a producer, he produced many major TV shows and albums for Yumi Matsutoya, Hiroko Williams, Love Notes (Hiro Kawashima and Maki Inouye).  He also produced music videos for Miliyah Kato, Kylee, SHAZNA, Shoko Suzuki, Yuji Oda and many others. 
Nori will be joined by Hiro Morozumi (Piano), Drew Waters (Bass), and Takako Uemura (Vocals).

You can watch his performance for Music Monday on YouTube (Click here). 

july 13, 2020: Goh Kurosawa

BICULTURAL MUSIC SAMURAI. Residing in Los Angeles and travelling the world from Japan, GOH (Goh Kurosawa) is a musician armed with Honey Beast (his guitar), Lucky8 (his amp), fresh original songs, electrifying soundscapes, and stunning arrangements of familiar global melodies.

You can watch his performance for Music Monday on YouTube (Click here). 









July 20, 2020: kenny endo

Taiko artist, Kenny Endo explores new possibilities for the ancient Japanese taiko.  Starting in 1975 with Kinnara Taiko and San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Kenny later spent ten years in Japan working with Osuwa Daiko and O Edo Sukeroku Taiko.  He received his natori in hogaku hayashi from the Mochizuki school and studied Edo Bayashi in the Wakayama style.  He is a performer, composer, and instructor based in Honolulu where he is artistic director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific.  Kenny regularly performs original music with his ensemble as well as through collaborations with artists from around the world. Kenny is proud to perform on taiko provided courtesy of Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten. Kenny will perform with members of Taiko Center of the Pacific.

You can watch his performance for Music Monday on YouTube (Click here). 





July 27, 2020: Yusuke Morita (LIVE from JAPAN)

Bass player / Composer / Arranger / Music director.  Born in 1988. Yusuke had toured the US as a member of ai kuwabara trio project in 2013. 2nd album "THE SIXTH SENSE" won the JAZZ JAPAN AWARD 2013 new star award. Yusuke also collaborated with many other artists as an arranger and a music director, he also toured Europe countries and developed his own music from the perspective of composition. Yusuke's solo project called "CHEEZNESS" shows you a large jazz ensemble to electronic music with modern 6 strings bass solo approach. Yusuke plays Adamovic basses and Markbass. Instagram @cheezness

You can watch his performance for Music Monday (July 27) on YouTube (Click here). 


august 3, 2020: ryo natoyama (LIVE from JAPAN)

Bringing a breath of fresh air to the Japanese Ukulele scene, Ryo Natoyama not only is an amazing Ukulele player but he also handcrafts all of his Ukuleles.  Born in 1993, he started playing the Ukulele after his family bought him one when they went to Hawaii during his 6th grade summer vacation. By the time he was in middle school, he crafted his own Ukulele. When he was 14, he became an opening act for Bruce Shimabukuro, Jody Kamisato, and other Hawaiian artists and appeared on television broadcasts. He also appeared on Jake Shimabukuro’s Japan Tour and in 2015, he released his 4th album called, “UKULELE SPLASH” and also a Christmas album called, “UKULELE Merry Christmas!”. Both albums were nominated for the 39th Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (Hawaii’s equivalent to the Grammy Awards) and he became the youngest Japanese artist to win with “UKULELE SPLASH”. He made his major label debut with “Made in Japan, To the World.” In July 2016. He has continued to be active in the music scene and has also performed in The United States, England, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, China, and Canada.

You can watch his performance for Music Monday (August 3) on YouTube (Click here). 


august 10, 2020: kyle abbott & Su Bunjamin

Kyle Abbott has dedicated over 14 years to playing and building shamisen. He is the author of the world’s first authoritative shamisen building/playing manual, ‘Shamisen of Japan’, and is the founder of Bachido (, the world's first international shamisen community. Featuring hundreds of hours of educational resources, Kyle has spearheaded a global push to make shamisen instruction accessible for everyone.
Kyle has led international instructional camps (Japan, Berlin and California), and has competed in Japan's National Tsugaru Shamisen tournaments. In 2019, he received the Judge’s Special Award in the highest division at Hirosaki World Tsugaru Shamisen Tournament. 
In 2015, Kyle assisted in the animated movie ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’. The animators of the film wanted to see how shamisen was played live, so the executive producers invited Kyle to their studio, where they filmed him play shamisen for the animators to record and observe.

Su Bunjamin is the driving force of Germany’s newly emerged Tsugaru Shamisen scene. With her classical musical background in violin and piano, she fell deeply in love with the dynamic and thrilling sounds of Tsugaru Shamisen and is dedicated to spread her passion through performing and teaching. She is the co-founder and leader of Germany’s first and only Shamisen association that pursues a proactive approach to introducing the Shamisen and Japanese culture to a broader audience.

You can watch their performance for Music Monday (August 10) on YouTube (Click here). 

august 17, 2020: masumi

"MASUMI is a child of both Japan and the US.  She was born in Palos Verdes, but then moved to Tokyo, New York, Washington DC, and finally Dallas – where she began singing in local restaurants and cafes, just her and her guitar. Fast forward to 2011, March 11th the devastating Tohoku earthquake shakes the ground of Japan. The experience inspires MASUMI to take a leave from University (International Christian University) and pursue her Singer/songwriter career in the US.  MASUMI graduated from the Los Angeles College of Music (LACM). Since then, the songbird has toured internationally in Sweden, NY, Italy, Tokyo; she has collaborated with amazing artists such as Dorian Holly (Michael Jackson), JJ Blaire (Grammy Award-winning album), Triston Boston (Grammy-nominated producer), Nash Overstreet (Hot Chelle Rae), to name a few. She’d been blessed with exciting opportunities like opening for Moby, working with EA Games, YAMAHA, and Youth Home organizations. Music has brought her many opportunities. In 2019, further success found her, as she was approached to be the star of her first film, “Yakuza Princess”.  The action thriller was shot over three months in Brazil, under the direction of Vicente Amorim.  More exciting, the film will also feature her original song  “Run Baby, Run”, allowing her to remain true to her musical roots while expanding her artistry to acting. The movie is set to be released in 2020, all over the world. A lot of things are in motion, but MASUMI’s goal remains the same: to inspire ordinary people to pursue extraordinary dreams.”

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (August 17) on YouTube (Click here). 

august 24, 2020: Kozue Matsumoto & Patrick Shiroishi

Kozue Matsumoto
Born and raised in the Tohoku area in Japan and having lived in Tokyo as well, Kozue is now based in the Los Angeles area. She has played the koto since she was three years old under Ikuta-ryu Miyagi-kai and holds a semi-master title. She has also playPaed the shamisen and the shinobue since she was small.  In North America, she has been collaborating with various musicians and movement, visual, installation, and other artists.   While being a Japanese music ensemble instructor at California Institute of the Arts, she has been invited as a guest lecturer by schools including, University of California, Santa Cruz, Bakersfield College and MiraCosta College. She also travels throughout the USA for performances, lectures, master classes and workshops.

Patrick Shiroishi is a Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist & composer based in Los Angeles.

You can watch their performance for Music Monday (August 24) on YouTube (Click here). 








august 31, 2020: toshi yanagi

Toshi currently holds 18 years of residence as the in-house guitarist on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”  He is originally from Kawasaki, Japan, and started playing piano at the age of 4, violin at 5, then joined the Tokyo Junior Philharmonic Orchestra when he was 11.  After completing his degree at Musicians Institute in Hollywood in 80’s, his session work took off immediately.  He has toured/recorded with Men At Work/Colin Hay, and was an essential tour member for Eikichi Yazawa (A king of Japanese Rock) for 10 years.  On top of that, he has played with such acts as David Lee Roth and Bill Withers, James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Billy Gibbons, Boz Scaggs, Buddy Guy, Todd Rundgren, Hall & Oates, George Benson, Chaka Khan, Jackson Brown and more.  Currently, he is the leading force of Van Halen’s tribute band, Brown M&M’s, and online based band, Non Touch Nation.

You can watch his performance for Music Monday (August 31) on YouTube (Click here). 

September 14, 2020: Hiroe sekine & RUmi Inoue

Hiroe Sekine
Jazz Pianist, Vocalist, Composer, Arranger.  A graduate of University of Sourthern California (USC) Thornton School of Music (Jazz Studies), Hiroe is a jazz pianist, vocalist, composer and arranger. She was invited to play with her own group at the highly prestigious Jazz Concert Series at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for three years, with the entire two-hour performances of 2016 and 2019 and her interviews broadcast on the nation-wide jazz station KJZZ 88.1FM. She has four CD albums including a release by Sony Music and her music is constantly played by radio stations. Her composition Nippon Barre won the first place for the International Songwriting Competition in the jazz category in 2017.

Rumi Inoue
Born in Kyoto, Japan, Rumi is a jazz flutist and composer and is actively engaged in performing and recording in the Los Angeles area. At a young age Rumi took first place in the classical flute ensemble category at the Kobe Flute Convention Competitions in Japan. Rumi pursued her classical flute studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna (Austria). She graduated with a Diplom (the Austrian equivalent of a bachelor’s degree) in classical flute performance. She subsequently earned her Master’s Degree from CSU Los Angeles in Afro-Latin Music with a focus on Flute Performance.






You can watch their performance for Music Monday (September 14) on YouTube (Click here). 

September 21, 2020: gary MATSUMOTO

Pianist and educator Gary Matsumoto has been a mainstay in the Southern California music scene for over two decades. As a regular touring musician, he has shared the stage with such notable names as George Benson, Haley Reinhart, Gordon Goodwin, and Macy Gray. Currently, he can be seen nationally with Grammy Award winning vocalist Steve Tyrell. As an educator, Matsumoto has taught nationally recognized and award winning students in programs including Young Arts, Grammy Band, and Los Angeles’ Music Center Spotlight. He is on faculty at UC Riverside, El Camino College, and Los Angeles College of Music.


You can watch his performance for Music Monday (September 21) on YouTube (Click here). 

September 28, 2020: kai kurosawa

Kai Kurosawa picked up the electric bass at the age of fifteen. Today his primary axe is Kūbo (aka the Aircraft Carrier); a custom 15-string instrument which he co-developed with renowned luthiers Michael & Daniel Tobias (MTD). Kai self-taught and self-created fresh new cutting edge musical techniques for this unique instrument. Widely considered as truly one of a kind player, he is frequently invited to teach seminars and clinics in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He is consistently busy working with various bands and creative projects; genres include jazz, progressive metal, rock, pop, and electronic music. When not on tour, he works as a producer/programmer and gives online lessons. Kai currently resides in Los Angeles.





You can watch his performance for Music Monday (September 28) on YouTube (Click here). 

October 5, 2020 Priscilla Ahn

Since her 2008 debut LP, A Good Day, for EMI's Blue Note Records, and its heart-resonant breakout hit, “Dream,” Ahn’s lyrical, original worlds of innocence and melancholy have had a delicate, but profound impact. In 2014, this gifted artist released her electro-pop-infused album, This is Where We Are.
Ahn has made her international presence through Oscar-nominated 2014 Studio Ghibli film, “When Marnie Was There,” which led to her album, Just Know That I Love You, written and recorded at the Ghibli producers’ request and based on the film and its children’s book inspiration. (“That was a joy to work on,” says Ahn. “I was almost writing songs about myself again.”)
Ahn’s latest project, La La La is an album for young children. Long in the planning, the spark that brought La La La to fruition came when Ahn and her husband, actor Michael Weston, welcomed the birth of their son in November 2015. 
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Ahn listened to Neil Young, the Beatles, Pink Floyd and other music her dad enjoyed listening to. Ahn later found personal resonance in female artists Ani DiFranco, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, and Feist, and after high school, Ahn discovered jazz, and in particular, jazz legend Chet Baker. 
In addition to Ahn’s appearances on late night national TV shows and her live performance of “Dream” on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” her songs have enhanced numerous TV shows and films.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (October 5) on YouTube (Click here). 


October 19, 2020: Yumi Torimatsu

Yumi Torimaru is a "Japanese cultural 'Edutainer' with Music" of Kotori Japanese Music ( She has been living in Japan and the States half and half of her life. She founded a Portland-based Taiko group, Takohachi ( in 2007, and performed hundreds of shows locally and internationally. In 2019 she has obtained 'natori' from Tsugaru Shamisen Oyama Kai, and given a stage name, Kotori Oyama. She is also a Bachido ( member. She won a special award and 1st place from the Internet Shinobue Contest 2018 and 2019, which culminated in performing at Shinobue Festa Tokyo 2018 and 2019.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (October 19) on YouTube (Click here). 

October 26, 2020: Ark Sano

Ark Sano has appeared as a jazz pianist in numerous albums including his two leader albums and four CDs with legendary group Black/Note from prestigious labels such as Columbia and Impulse. While he has appeared on live TV, radio and online broadcasting shows internationally, Ark's abundant performing experience also extends to major Jazz festivals such as North Sea, JVC, Montreal, Monterey and Victoria. 
He graduated from Berklee College of Music with the honor of Summa Cum Laude and is the finalist of Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 1989. His musical activity expands to performing with his group, as well as in the style of solo piano, both classical and jazz music in live shows and concerts. He is also composing/arranging for various group and ensemble including Japan America Chamber Ensemble, for which he serves as the music director. Besides being the conductor of the ensemble, he is the assistant conductor of Palisades Symphony and Symphony 47 Orchestra.

You can watch his performance for Music Monday (October 26) on YouTube (Click here). 

november 2, 2020: hideaki tokunaga

Born in Osaka Japan, guitarist, Hideaki Tokunaga came to the United States in 1985 and settled in New York, playing with an organization called Music Under New York (MUNY), which arranged for musicians to play in subways. 
In 1990, he moved to Southern California and started attending CalArts through the Charlie Mingus Scholarship Program. In 1998, he graduated from CalArts with a Master's Degree. His debut CD, "The Wind Told Me" was released in 1997 and the second album, "Midnight Rainbow" was released in 1998.
Wes Montgomery has been the idol of many guitarists for more than half a century. Hideaki was heavily inspired by Wes Montgomery and also uses his "thumb" to pick strings as well. Hideaki's talent has been noticed by Wes Montgomery's younger brother, pianist, Buddy Montgomery.
Wes and Buddy had another brother, Monk Montgomery, who is responsible for introducing the Fender electric bass to the jazz world. They formed a band called Montgomery Brothers. Despite their great music talent, none of these brothers could read music at all. 
Therefore, in 1995, Buddy Montgomery asked Hideaki to transcribe some Montgomery Brothers' arrangements to music sheet notation. Hideaki agreed and Buddy also granted him the right to use the same arrangement on Hideaki's recording. 
Currently residing in Los Angeles, his warm, beautiful, solid and grooving guitar sound has been capturing the hearts of every Jazz fan.  JapaneseGuitarist.Com

You can watch his performance for Music Monday (November 2) on YouTube (Click here). 

november 9, 2020: minyo station (Yu Ooka & Marisa Kosugi)

Minyo Station is “The Contemporary style of Japanese Folk Music group”, based in Los Angeles, California. They arrange Japanese folk songs with the western twist.(jazzy, funky, and ROCK!) Classically trained Minyo singers and shamisen(3-string Japanese guitar) players are the core instruments to carry the traditional Japanese sound, and western instruments such as guitar, keyboards, bass and drums bring out the modern side of taste. Their mission is to carry on the sound of Japanese traditional music to the next generation and to create their own modern sound of traditional Japanese music.

Guitarist, shamisen player and composer, Yu Ooka is originally from Osaka, Japan.  After moving to Los Angeles, California in the US, Yu has worked/toured as a guitarist with numerous jazz and R&B artists such as Billy Mitchell, Barbara Morrison, Thelma
Houston, The Supremes(The Former Ladies of The Supremes), Patrice Rushen, Janice Johnson(A Taste of Honey), Garrett Morris(from the original cast of “Saturday Night Live”), and many more.  As a leader, he released the first jazz/fusion album, “Vegas Drive” in 2016 and his
songs are played on radio in Europe, the US, and Japan.  He also leads a jazzy style of Japanese folk music group, “Minyo Station”, which has performed at many festivals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Atlanta.  He learned shamisen under the shamisen/vocal legend, “Sato Matsutoyo” and received his certified name, “Yu Sato Matsutoyo”.  His music style is versatile and his work appeared on radio, TV shows, and movies.

Marisa Kosugi was born in Berkeley, Ca.  She is the daughter of Minyo master, Madame Matsutoyo Sato, who established Matsutoyo Kai in 1966.  At age 21, Marisa apprenticed under Japan’s renowned Minyo singer, Madame Makiko Kosugi, to study the traditional style of Minyo, the Japanese cultural arts.  She lived in Tokyo for 3-years and attained her Natori, accredited name of a performing art.  She learned the language and etiquette by listening and watching her senpais, upper classmen.  There were many challenges, but through the support from her Minyo family in Japan, she learned discipline.  The purpose of her training was to have a better understanding of her mother's experiences in the arts that requires strength, patience and deep passion.   After returning to the U.S. she's been enjoying time with her mother and Matsutoyo Kai members performing in California.  She hopes to share the stories of Minyo and the history as her mother's wish is for Minyo to continue another 100 years.

You can watch their performance for Music Monday (November 9) on YouTube (Click here). 

November 16, 2020: Miki Aoki

Praised for “genuinely memorable performance” by BBC Music Magazine, pianist Miki Aoki is widely recognized for her diverse abilities as pianist and collaborative artist.  She is recording exclusively for German Label Hänssler Profil. Her latest recording, Tokyo Story, was released in 2018. This sensational recording featured the original piano version of the film soundtracks of Japanese film director, Yasujiro Ozu and was given recognition by the Japanese media.  A frequent guest artist of prestigious concert series and festivals around the world and has also performed as soloist and has also established herself as a collaborative pianist.  She started playing the piano at age 4 and moved to London at age 9 where she joined the Purcell School of Music. She holds degrees from Indiana University anKonzertexamen degree at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg. (Mit Auszeichnung).  Currently based in New York City, she is ad Yale University and later obtained a distinction in the Doctorate Candidate at SUNY Stony Brook and is a teaching assistant under Gilbert Kalish. Since September 2019, she has been working at the Juilliard School as the studio pianist for Professor Carol Rodland.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (November 16) on YouTube (Click here). 

november 23, 2020: Layla Lane

Somewhere in the bustling alleys of the pop music metropolis lies L.A.-based pop duo Layla Lane. With a live show that can charm even the most resilient crowd, members Heday and Valerie have mastered their instruments to deliver a one-of-a-kind brand of dueling piano-guitar revelry. 
After guitarist Heday left his native Japan, he honed his skills in LA collaborating with Jerry Lee Lewis and the Beatles' Ringo Starr. In 2009, he joined forces with Los Angeles-born pianist Valerie Stern, who has performed with members of the L.A. Philharmonic and even doubled for actress Lindsay Lohan playing Chopin in the film I Know Who Killed Me. Together, Layla Lane has written music for two Coca-Cola commercials, recorded a song for the Lionsgate film Killers, toured Japan, and hosted their own variety TV show, Layla Lane's Pop Spot. The duo's debut album and single "Happy Lane" were released by major label Avex in Japan.


You can watch their performance for Music Monday (November 23) on YouTube (Click here). 


december 7, 2020: yogetsu akasaka (LIVE from JAPAN)

Beatboxer/Handpan player/Japanese Zen Buddhist monk.  As a human beatboxer, he started his musical journey from New York and all around the world. After his musical journey, he became a Japanese Zen Buddhist monk.  He gained attention through his live performances, where he records various sounds of his voice on the spot and chants Buddhist sutras and mantras. With the success of his YouTube video, he has appeared on various events such as outdoor festivals and even events related to mindfulness.  
In 2020, he uploaded “Heart Sutra Live Looping Remix” on YouTube and received over 1.9 million views. He has continued to be active during the pandemic by conducting live streaming that lasted for 108 days, holding online meditation sessions, and has gained followers from all over the world. He shows his talents as someone who can provide ‘medicine’ through his music and chants.  Music x Buddhism x Technology has interconnected to establish a new kind of musical experience.

You can watch his performance for Music Monday (December 7) on YouTube (Click here). 

December 14, 2020: Shigeru IshikawaS (LIVE from JAPAN)

Solo Principal Doublebass (Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra), Visiting Professor (Senzoku Gakuen College of Music), Faculty (Toho Gakuen School of Music).  Born in Tokyo. Graduated from Keio University with a degree in Economics. While attending Keio University, he was also enrolled in Toho Gakuen School of Music’s Diploma Course and studied the Contrabass under Composer, Shunsaku Tsutsumi. In 1988, he move to the States to enroll in Yale University Department of Music and studied under Gary Karr, and also studied under Eugene Levinson at The Julliard School. He became the part lead for New World Symphony, part lead for Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, became solo lead for Berner Symphonie-Orchesterin in Switzerland, and from 2013, he’s the Solo Principal Doublebass at Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.  He continues to search for possibilities for Doublebass to become a solo instrument. He considers J.S. Bach: Solosuiten für Violoncello an integral part of who he is and received attention when he released J.S. Bach: Solosuiten für Violoncello Nr. 1, 2, &3 (2011), J.S. Bach: Solosuiten für Violoncello Nr. 4,5 (2013). In 2015, Composer, Joe Hisaishi conducted  “Contrabass Concerto” and he was one of the members performing in Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. This world premiere performance was shown on Japanese TV program, “Yomikyo Symphonic Live”. He currently is also Visiting Professor of Senzoku Gakuen College of Music.

You can watch his performance for Music Monday (December 14) on YouTube (Click here). 

January 11, 2021: Hana Hibiki Duo

Kozue Matsumoto, koto, and Rachel Rudich, shakuhachi, meld their love of traditional Japanese music with their expertise in contemporary and experimental forms. Their fusion of traditional, modern, and improvisational music creates an incredibly vibrant and exciting showcase for Japanese culture through music.

Rachel Rudich: Rachel Rudich is an internationally known flutist specializing in contemporary music, repertoire for flute and electronics, flutist as dancer, and traditional and improvised music for shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute. She received her DMA from the Manhattan School of Music, and her MA degree in Dance from University of California and is currently Professor of Flute at California Institute of the Arts, and Lecturer at Pomona College.  She attended and performed at the World Shakuhachi Festivals as well as the Rockies Shakuhachi Camp in Boulder, Colorado. Ms. Rudich spent two months in Japan during the spring of 2012 for extensive study of and performances on the shakuhachi, and was most recently in Japan in 2018. Ms. Rudich leads a beginning shakuhachi class and the Japan Ensemble at CalArts. More information can be found at

Kozue Matsumoto: Born and raised in the Tohoku area in Japan and having lived in Tokyo as well, Kozue is now based in the Los Angeles area. She has played the koto since she was three years old under Ikuta-ryu Miyagi-kai and holds a semi-master title. She has also playPaed the shamisen and the shinobue since she was small.  In North America, she has been collaborating with various musicians and movement, visual, installation, and other artists.   While being a Japanese music ensemble instructor at California Institute of the Arts, she has been invited as a guest lecturer by schools including, University of California, Santa Cruz, Bakersfield College and MiraCosta College. She also travels throughout the USA for performances, lectures, master classes and workshops.

You can watch their performance for Music Monday (January 11) on YouTube (Click here). 

January 25, 2021: Honoka

Brought up in Hawai’i embraced by the beauty from the mountains to the sea, Honoka has grown an admiration for the nature that surrounds her. This connection to nature, in all of its diverse vibrancy, is what inspires her as a person and a musician – to live every second of life brimming with passion, integrity, and harmony. As an ‘ukulele musician, Honoka brings a virtuosic competency to her work – spanning across a wide range of genres and eras. Honoka’s music is expressive, poignant, but always rooted in authenticity. Honoka hopes to live a life that is inspired, and with music has her voice, inspire others along the way.







You can watch her performance for Music Monday (January 25) on YouTube (Click here). 

February 1, 2021: Motoko Honda

Critically-acclaimed Japanese-born pianist/composer/media artist Motoko Honda has created a distinctive sound through her holistic approach to music, her collaborative sensibility to multiple art forms and inspired use of innovative technologies. Portrayed as a “Keyboard Alchemist”(Chris Barton, L.A.Times) and the “Embodiment of a Muse” (Greg Burk,,Honda has fascinated critics and audiences alike with her genre-defying innovative approach to piano playing and composing: “Imagine Radiohead teaching Franz List how to rock a Kaoss Pad; or John Cage facing off with Bud Powell over prepared piano”(Matthew Duersten, With stylistic influences ranging from jazz to Indonesian music and contemporary prepared & electrified piano, Honda is a musical force of nature, bringing a unique creative sound to her solo works and wide-ranging collaborations. Her music transports audiences on sonic adventures that transcend the boundaries and conventions of traditional contemporary music concerts.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (February 1) on YouTube (Click here). 

February 8, 2021: Naomi Ozawa

Since 2001 Naomi Ozawa has lived in the Los Angeles area and has been active as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician on the Oboe and English Horn.  Originally from Hamamatsu (Shizuoka) Japan, she now lives in Torrance California.  Over the last few decades, Naomi has performed throughout Japan, Europe and the United States.  Naomi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from the Vienna University of Music and she holds a Performing Arts and a Masters degree from Mannes College of Music, New York.  Naomi teaches music at her Los Angeles home studio “Visionary Music Entertainment”.  Additionally she coaches local youth orchestras, chorus groups and chamber groups.  Naomi also performs in local Symphony Orchestras including the Huntington Beach Orchestra.  Naomi is a Board Member of the Music Teachers Association of California and is one of the cofounders of the nonprofit group “Tulips in Harmony”--which, since 2011, after the North Eastern Japan Earthquake disaster, has raised money and improved awareness to support the Miyako Junior Strings Ensemble in Iwate Prefecture.  In 2019 Naomi started rock band experience with UMAMIX, and she performs with the band on alto saxophone.  Naomi’s hobbies include playing various musical instruments and composing music in the style of new age jazz.  Most recently, composing jazz and new-age folk-style music has become the center of her musical growth and development.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (February 8) on YouTube (Click here). 

February 22, 2021: TEN

Ten is an instrumental world music band based in Los Angeles that blends the ancient sound of the Japanese koto with contemporary music instruments like the bass and drums. The name of the band means "Heaven" in Japanese.
Ten was founded in Tokyo, Japan in 2005 by husband and wife Ash (Bass) and Yuki (13-string koto & 17-string koto). They moved to New York in 2009, and finally Los Angeles in 2014. They invited Haru (Drums) to the band in 2020.

Yuki: 13-string Koto & 17-string Koto
She has been playing the koto for 30 years and toured in Asia, Europe, North America, and Latin America. She is also a master of the Sawai Koto school and has been giving a koto private lessons in Torrance.
Haru : Drums
He started playing the drums for his elder brother band when he was 10 years old. He moved to Los Angeles when he was 20 years old. He jammed at some blues clubs in the Valley area where he met with established musicians, such as Kazuo Takeda from Creation. He participated in many concert tours with artists, such as KOTOKO and I'VE artists, and The Travellers. 
Ash : Bass
He is a bassist, guitarist and composer. Ten’s all music is written by Ash and also all koto parts are composed on Ash’s 7-string electric guitar. The one of Ten’s song called "Relapse Into Silence" was nominated in the World Music category of the 2016 American Songwriting Awards.

You can watch their performance for Music Monday (February 22) on YouTube (Click here). 

march 1, 2021: "Yu-Ki" Shamisen Jazz Project 

The Yu-Ki Shamisen Jazz Project creates original and boundary-pushing sounds through its unique approach of blending Japanese traditional Shamisen and West coast music.  Yu, a Jazz guitarist, plays Shamisen arranged by Kimo, producer of the world-renowned Jazz fusion group Hiroshima, accompanied by Jervonny "JV" Collier (Bass) and Land Richards (Drums).   Together the four of them will perform original compositions, old Japanese songs, Jazz, smooth Jazz R&B, and more!

Yu Ooka: Shamisen & Guitars
Originally from Osaka, Japan and Los Angeles, US based shamisenist/guitarist  He is also known as a leader of jazzy style Japanese folk music group, Minyo Station.  He has performed at many festivals, TVs, movies and worked with Billy Mitchell, Barbara Morrison, Patrice Rushen, Thelma Houston, The Supremes(FLOS), Janice Johnson(Taste of Honey), Michael Paulo, Garrett Morris, Eric Marienthal and many more.  His first solo album, "Vegas Drive" has been spinning all over the world in the US, Asia, and Europe.







Kimo Cornwell: Keyboards
Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii.  He is a co-producer, arranger, and songwriter for two-time Grammy Award nominee contemporary Jazz fusion group, Hiroshima.(1983 - present).  He has toured and recorded with many artists such as, Al Jarreau, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Ronnie Laws, John Klemmer, Cheryl Lynn (“To Be Real”), Rick Springfield, Peter White, flautist Tim Wiesberg, Julio Iglesias, Howard Hewitt, Barbara Morrisson, Billy Mitchell’s Circle Of Friends, Michael Paulo, Kalapana, Kapono Beamer, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Don Ho and many more.  He has composed music for TV, independent movies, and documentaries, and received 3 gold albums (2 for Hiroshima, 1 for Al Jarreau). In addition, he has received many awards and proclamations from different cities around the US through his work with Hiroshima and Maze.

Jervonny "JV" Collier: Bass 
Originally from Detroit, MI.  Worked with The Temptations, Earl Klugh, Freda Payne, the Emotions, Frankie Valli, the Brecker Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Ben E. King, Tyrone Davis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The 5th Dimension, the Pointer Sisters, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. and Norman Connors, Bonnie Raitt, Chic Corea, Bela Fleck, George Duke, Kirk Whalum, the Band, Branford Marsalis, and has played bass duets with Victor Wooten and Christian McBride.  Since 1994, he has been playing with Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Bruce Hornsby.



Land Richards: Drums 
He has worked with so many artists in the US and all over the world.  Worked With: Gerald Albright, Namie Amuro, Ashford and Simpson, Eikichi Yazawa, Atushi/Exile, Patti Austin, Phillip Bailey, George Benson, Angela Bofil, Michael Bolton, Ron Brown, Rick Braun, Peabo Bryson, Bobby Caldwell, Larry Carlton, Lalah Hathaway and many more.






You can watch their performance for Music Monday (March 1) on YouTube (Click here). 

March 8, 2021: Akira komatsu

Akira Komatsu is a composer and musician originally from Tokyo Japan who started his career as a Jazz-oriented guitarist and musical instructor. He has scored a wide range of projects, including the film "Introducing Gifu" which premiered at the Shanghai China Expo 2010, TV commercials for Precure Series Toys for BANDAI Co., Ltd., a radio commercial for JASRAC, and many independent films. Working in the Dramatic, Pop, Rock, Electronic, and Jazz genres, Akira's music is unique, highly emotive, and often very quirky! Akira Komatsu studied with Jeff Richman at MI/GIT Hollywood, and he graduated with Human Relation Award. He moved to LA in 2017, works as a freelance composer and guitarist.




You can watch his performance for Music Monday (March 8) on YouTube (Click here). 

March 15, 2021: Little Wooden Bridge

Little Wooden Bridge is Kai Kurosawa's duo project. The very first featured performer will be drummer Chuck van Haecke. The two have worked on countless projects together since 2008 and have created a strong friendship and trust through their musical work as well as from being on the road together. The duo plays originals and covers influenced by but not limited to Contemporary Jazz, World Music and Rock.

Kai Kurosawa: Guitars
Kai Kurosawa picked up the electric bass at the age of fifteen. Today his primary axe is Kūbo (aka the Aircraft Carrier); a custom 15-string instrument which he co-developed with renowned luthiers Michael & Daniel Tobias (MTD). Kai self-taught and self-created fresh new cutting edge musical techniques for this unique instrument. Widely considered as truly one of a kind player, he is frequently invited to teach seminars and clinics in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He is consistently busy working with various bands and creative projects; genres include jazz, progressive metal, rock, pop, and electronic music. When not on tour, he works as a producer/programmer and gives online lessons. Kai currently resides in Los Angeles.


Chuck van Haecke: Drum
Iowa native, Chuck van Haecke, picked up his first pair of drumsticks at age 10. Jumping at every opportunity to play, he won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Since graduating summa cum laude, he has been recording and touring with various jazz, funk, rock, or pop artists. Chuck’s sound is a merging of the James Brown groove with the technique of Frank Zappa blended with the emotion of Miles Davis. Chuck resides with his dog Zoe in Los Angeles.


You can watch their performance for Music Monday (March 15) on YouTube (Click here). 

March 22, 2021: Ryoji, Paul & Indigo

As Family Fun World Music, they will play songs from Okinawa to west Africa with sanshin (shamisen) from Okinawa, Djembe from Africa, Xylophone and more.  The live performance will be streaming from the beautiful Arts and Roots Garden in Inglewood.

Ryoji Inatsugi is a musician, educator, and world musical instruments and hand percussion, Born in Japan in 1976.
He has been learning many kinds of musical instruments and drums since his young age such as Japanese Taiko drumming, Okinawa Sanshin, Balinese Gamelan, Guitars and others.  Moved to Los Angeles in 2001, start performing with local musicians, as he working in the Japanese Sushi restaurant.  2005, He started working at Motherland Music in Inglewood California as a hand percussion tech, learned African drumming and drum making.  He started teach music at a preschool in Westchester Los Angeles as his first child start attending there in 2011.  Since then, He has been teaching early music education in local preschools and facilities as his new profession.  He went to West Africa Mali in 2018, learned African Xylophone its called “Balafon” brought it back to Los Angeles,   Introducing Balafon to young children in the Comunity since.  Currently Ryoji (as Mr. Smiley) is hosting weekly Facebook Live of UCLA recreation summer camp virtual drum circle.  Introducing to elementary kids hand percussions and drumming with world music, also DIY musical instruments making.  Aldo he has a band is called “Party at Motherland” streaming music and videos through YouTube and SoundCloud.

Paul Terry, Jr is a professional musician, composer and producer as well as a martial artist, and educator from Austin Texas. He graduated with honors from the Ethnomusicology department at UCLA. During his time at UCLA he met key musicians that would play pivotal roles in his musical development. Mentone was a roots reggae band that released a Full length album in 2005 called Empire. Paul wrote the title track and he, Ronen Navah, and Aki Ehara co produced and mastered it. It is available on Spotify and through their band camp page. The following year Paul and Ronen Navah (the singer and guitar player of Mentone) formed Samson Simpson, a raucous and fun Rock band with Funk, Soul and Blues influences and recorded songs for a Full length album. Paul learned to play keyboards in Afrobeat, Highlife, Samba, Cha-Cha, Son clave, and Cumbia styles and incorporated them into his Rock and Blues country ala Rolling Stones sound to develop other bands with minor releases like Las Manchas, and Spicy Fernandez, and Ashes and Roots. Paul is currently working with a band called Party at Motherland. They meet weekly and have videos and music streaming on Youtube and SoundCloud.


As a freelance percussionist and drummer, Indigo has performed with production outfits and recording artists such as Miki Howard, Royal Caribbean Productions, Aaron Marcellus, Revolutionary Council Afrobeat, and Street Drum Corps. She was also a principle performer in the NYC Off-Broadway cast of STOMP. As an educator, Indigo teaches drums and percussion both privately and at the School of Rock franchise. Visit for more!




You can watch their performance for Music Monday (March 22) on YouTube (Click here). 

april 5, 2021: noriaki mita (LIVE from JAPAN)

Chair of Mita Noriaki Gagaku Academy in Tokyo, Japan, Mita began studying Hichiriki, Gaku-soh, and U-mai at the age of 9 under Suemasa Abe (Ex-chief master of court music of Imperial Household Agency, department of music and dance). He has also mastered the art of Sa-mai (such as "Ranryo-Oh”) under Shogo Anzai, and has danced "Nasori" at the National Theater of Japan and other various stages as a member of Tokyo Gakuso, led at that time by Tadamaro Ohno. He has gained popularity for combining his explanation of Gagaku with performance (Gagaku Lecture Concert), and in 1995, he introduced Gagaku to audiences at New York Carnegie Hall. Throughout his life, many amazing players have influenced and taught Noriaki how Gagaku should be, and these are moments he treasures to this day.  In 2000, he started a project called “Gagaku, Returning to Asia” with fellow musicians, dancers and researchers in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan. He and his colleagues have been visiting each other’s countries to hold various events such as conferences, workshops, and concerts.  On Facebook Live, he will be performing with Harumi Mita, Yoshie Suzuki, and Chihiro Mita. They belong to Mita Noriaki Gagaku Academy.  They will be demonstrating Gagaku as well as  a traditional dance performance.


You can watch their performance for Music Monday (April 5) on YouTube (Click here). 

april 12, 2021: aun (LIVE from JAPAN)

AUN’s performances are not only amazing musically, but also quite exciting and entertaining as they encompass today's rock n' roll, ambient bass and drum styles, popular with both young and old.  Ryohei and Kohei Inoue are twins who explore the potentials of Japanese traditional instruments through Taiko drums, Shinobue flute, and Koto. They joined Japanese troupe specializing in taiko drumming called “Ondekoza (demon drum group)” at the age of 18. They performed over 1000 times in New York, performed in and out of Carnegie Hall for over 12 years, and performed in 28 countries.  AUN was formed in 2000 and had multiple CD releases and extensively toured all over Japan. In 2006, they produced Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)’s “Visit Japan Campaign”. In 2009, they reestablished themselves under “AUN-J Classic Orchestra”. This new unit gathers young Japanese artists to popularize traditional Japanese music and frequently performed overseas. Through this unit, they released “Wa-Gakki de Ghibli” in 2010. They wanted to produce music that connects children to the world of Hayao Miyazaki.

You can watch their performance for Music Monday (April 12) on YouTube (Click here). 

april 19, 2021: tomoka nomura-jarvis & Noriko Olling

Originally from Gifu, Japan, Tomoka Nomura-Jarvis started to play Piano at age 6 and saxophone at age 17. She earned a Masters in Music from the State University of New York at Buffalo in saxophone performance.  Tomoka has appeared on ABC’s  "Jimmy Kimmel Live" with Fat Joe, Remy Ma and Ty Dalla $ign, appeared in a recently released music video by renowned Armenian singer Arman Hovhannisyan, and has toured in Japan and the United states with legendary Japanese blues singer Kenichi Mikawa.  She is a member of all female jazz group Jazz in Pink, The Sully Band, and the all-female sax quartet, The Saxations.  Tomoka has performed for numerous music festivals, including the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl (2019), the Cancun Jazz Festival in Mexico (2019), the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City FL (2019), the Catalina Jazz Trax festival (2017), and the Long Beach Jazz Festival (2017 and 2019) to name a few.





Born and raised in Japan, Noriko Olling-Wright started playing piano at the age of 5 years-old, studying everything from classical to jazz to R&B. She attended Jinai College in Fukui, Japan majoring in music performance. In 1988, she moved to Los Angeles to sharpen her skills to be a force in America’s music scene. As a result, she has become one of L.A.’s best kept secrets, having played, arranged, composed, produced and musical directed for the likes of: Chaka Khan, P!nk, Teena Marie & Rick James, Gladys Knight, Michael Bolton, Richard Street and Ollie “Ali” Woodson (of The Temptations) and many more. Noriko’s unique background has given her the perfect combination of classical sensibilities and soulful taste.
In recent years, Noriko’s world has expanded into musical theater, lending her talents as musical director and keyboardist for many productions, as well as, composer.
Some of her musical theater highlights are: East West Players (Beijing Spring), Floyd Mutrux (Director, The Boy from New York City), Trini Garza (Producer, Troupe Productions) and Lori Joroslow (Writer, Baby Project).



You can watch their performance for Music Monday (April 19) on YouTube (Click here). 

april 26, 2021: elliot kaNshin kallen & Paul dean

Elliot Kanshin Kallen began his musical career playing keyboards for many bands and on many stages. A chance encounter led him to the shakuhachi, the traditional Japanese bamboo flute. He is a long-time student of David Kansuke Wheeler of Boulder, CO, and he also studies with Kawase Junsuke III, the third-generation head of Chikuyu-sha, the largest shakuhachi teaching organization of its kind in Japan. Elliot was given his Shihan (master/teacher certification) and performance name, Kanshin, in 2018. Elliot plays shakuhachi in a wide variety of contexts, from traditional solo Zen pieces and ensemble music with koto and shamisen, to the exploratory sounds of the avant guard. He is the current President of the International Shakuhachi Society (see Elliot performs, teaches, and gives lectures on Japanese classical music and the shakuhachi from his home base in Northern California.





Paul Dean is a bassist, songwriter, composer and arranger. He studied jazz at University of Miami and Sonoma State University. From 1996 to 2011, he wrote for and performed with Blusion, an original fusion-funk jazz band. Since that time he has performed and recorded in a wide variety of settings.




You can watch their performance for Music Monday (April 26) on YouTube (Click here). 

may 3, 2021: kat mcdowell

Born in Tokyo and raised in New Zealand, Kat McDowell makes music with an Ocean Pop sound delivered in a blend of Japanese and English that is uniquely her own.   
Kat’s career started with a record that no 1. on the vinyl charts in Japan and her music has been placed in multiple commercials including a 2019 Xfinity and Apple commercial.  Most recently her single “Outside Inside” was selected for multiple “New Music Friday” Spotify Editorial playlists around the world.  Kat released her song “1000 Paper Cranes” as a tribute to her Japanese grandmother just as the pandemic hit and it sparked the idea to start zoom Origami workshops for her supporters as a way to connect and bring some comfort and therapy. The live music / origami workshops have been a hit and have been picked up by colleges, conventions, summer camps and schools all over the US.  Most recently in 2021, Kat's newest song "Kokoro no Kakera (Kintsugi)" won Grand Prize in the World Section of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition and has been performing and writing songs live on Twitch three times a week.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (May 3) on YouTube (Click here). 

may 10, 2021: okamoto miya

Born in the snow country of Niigata prefecture in Japan. Witnessing Shinnai-bushi Master Okamoto Bunya’s final years, she became fascinated by this form of storytelling, which uses song accompanied by shamisen music. She left Japan in 1996, living in Belgium, Canada and the US.  After many adventures around the world (exploring sound and visual composition), in 2012 she became a disciple of Master Okamoto Miyanosuke III. Ever since, she has been learning Shinnai-bushi artistry, traveling between New York and Tokyo.  In 2019, she became a Natori, a holder of a diploma of master of Okamoto school Shinnai-bushi, and received the stage name Okamoto Miya. She is passionate about introducing the world to the great achievements of the late Grand Master Okamoto Bunya and the charm of Okamoto school Shinnai-bushi.  In 2020, Miya (a.k.a. Takahashi Sachiyo, Nekaa Lab) began a new series, Shinnai Meets Puppetry, inviting local and international puppeteers. Its first repertoire, One Night in Winter, is in the process of creation with the support from The Jim Henson Foundation.  She is currently a resident artist at HERE Arts Centre in New York City developing a new experimental music theatre, The Emotions, in collaboration with Korean instrumentalist gamin.  She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

You can watch her performance for Music Monday (May 10) on YouTube (Click here). 

May 17, 2021: taro wayama & david lee ruest

Taro Wayama is a Japanese born guitarist/composer. He is a winner of numerous competitions such as 1st place in the 2003 Aron Green/American String Teachers Association Guitar Competition and 2nd place in the Thailand International Guitar Competition.  As a composer he received “Best Original Score” at the Los Angeles Movie Awards for an independent film, “Anne Jennings”.  Taro is an active soloist and a chamber musician. He has performed in Japan, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, China, Belgium and the US. He frequently collaborates with violin, clarinet, flute, voice and dancer performing music from Renaissance through 21st Century and Folk/World music.  Taro holds Masters and Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California where he studied with Pepe Romero, William Kannengiser, James Smith, Brian Head and Scott Tennant.  He has performed in number masterclasses by great guitarists such as Pepe Romero, David Leisner, Scott Tennant, Benjamin Verdery, Dusan Bogdanvic, Fabio Zanon, and William Kanengiser.




David Lee Ruest was born in South Korea and grew up in New York, NY.  He originally moved to California to join the first violin section of the Santa Barbara Symphony.  As a violist he has performed with the Pacific and San Diego Symphonies as a substitute section player.  He has also performed as a violinist with the Harrisburg, Annapolis, Baltimore, New West, Pasadena, and Long Beach Symphonies.  He has also given solo and chamber music recitals and performances in New York, Baltimore, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Los Angeles.  Recently, he performed at Teatro de la Danza in Mexico City, Mexico, at the Museo Jose Clemente Orozco, in Guadalajara, Mexico, and at Sifang Museum in Nanjing, China.  David received a M.M. from UCLA, a B.M. from the Peabody Conservatory and a Diploma from the Juilliard Pre-College Division.  In addition to playing violin and viola he is a full time Real Estate Agent in Los Angeles.  In his free time he enjoys watching Korean Dramas and playing tennis.


You can watch their performance for Music Monday (May 17) on YouTube (Click here). 

May 24, 2021: Matsutoyo Sato, Marisa Kosugi & Matsutoyo Yu sato

Vocals, Shamisen.  Founder of Matsutoyo Kai based on Los Angeles (  Matsutoyo Sato studied European music and opera in Japan for 10 years as a child.  At 16, she was formally exposed to Minyo, Shigin, and the Biwa. By age 20, her instructors encouraged her to apprentice under Madame Matsuko Sato, the late Iemoto, or Grand Master of the Sato school in Japan.  Excelling in a variety of traditional music genres, her skill and determination allowed her talents to be recognized with performances on both local and national NHK television and radio programs, and various stage performances throughout Japan.  In the United States, she has performed in films such as ” The Karate Kid 2” and various TV commercials. Disney Land’s “Japanese Festival” also “Little Tokyo Ondo” for Japanese Nisei Week Festival.  Today, Matsutoyo Sato continues to teach and pass on her knowledge, passion and expertise in traditional Minyo throughout Northern and Southern California.



Marisa Kosugi was born in Berkeley, CA.  She is the daughter of Minyo master, Madame Matsutoyo Sato, who established Matsutoyo Kai in 1966.  At age 21, Marisa apprenticed under Japan’s renowned Minyo singer, Madame Makiko Kosugi, to study the traditional style of Minyo, the Japanese cultural arts.  She lived in Tokyo for 3-years and attained her Natori, accredited name of a performing art.  She learned the language and etiquette by listening and watching her senpais, upper classmen.  There were many challenges, but through the support from her Minyo family in Japan, she learned discipline.  The purpose of her training was to have a better understanding of her mother's experiences in the arts that requires strength, patience and deep passion.  After returning to the U.S. she's been enjoying time with her mother and Matsutoyo Kai members performing in California.  She hopes to share the stories of Minyo and the history as her mother's wish is for Minyo to continue another 100 years.

Shamisen player.  Originally from Osaka, Japan.  After moving to Los Angeles, California in the US, Yu met the Minyo shamisen/vocal legend, Matsutoyo Sato and started learning shamisen from her.  Afterwhile, he received his certified name (Natori), “Matsutoyo Yu Sato”.  In 2018, he performed at the National Theatre of Japan.  Besides being a shamisen player, he also plays guitar for different music such as jazz, blues and R&B and toured in the US, Canada, Japan with many artists/shows such as Billy Mitchell, Barbara Morrison, Thelma Houston, The Supremes and Garrett Morris.  He leads a jazzy style of Japanese folk music group, “Minyo Station”, which has performed at many festivals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Atlanta and etc.  The debut album, Cultural Twist was released in 2013.  From 2020, he started creating a new style of shamisen music with the Grammy Nominee keyboardist, Kimo Cornwell, who is known as a member of HIROSHIMA.  They are called, “Yu-Ki project” and performed virtually for museums and festivals.  His versatile music style is very unique and his work appeared on radio, TV shows, and movies.


You can watch their performance for Music Monday (May 24) on YouTube (Click here). 

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